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Patient Identity Matching – Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient

Accurate patient identity matching holds paramount significance across the U.S. healthcare system. Delivering the best possible patient experience, including safety and outcome, hinges on the ability of the healthcare providers to keep and maintain accurate medical records. Healthcare providers continue to struggle to accurately match their patients’ identities to their health records, and blame it on inaccurate and incomplete patient data, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Physicians should be able to retrieve accurate records on each patient’s medical history, including lab results, diagnoses, medications, imaging, surgeries, etc. to deliver the best patient care. Needless to say, accurate patient identity matching during the COVID-19 crisis is vital for ensuring a positive patient experience.

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Can healthcare providers solve the patient identity matching crisis? Yes, and the solution is RightPatient – a leading touchless biometric patient identity management platform that has been successfully helping many leading hospitals address this specific issue.

Accurate patient identity matching ensures that the right patient is associated with the right medical records within a healthcare system. It means knowing with certainty that a piece of medical information belongs to the correct individual. There are many consequences if records are mismatched, such as incorrect treatment, improper data entries which can lead to the creation of duplicate records, and medical identity theft. Effective patient identity matching is not just about patient safety, it also helps healthcare providers avoid financial losses associated with duplicate records and claim denials from medical identity theft. 

How costly are patient identity matching errors?

Let us look at this example. A patient’s kidney was surgically removed by the time physicians realized that there was no tumor. This blunder in the operating room of Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., occurred when the patient’s CT scan was accidentally mixed up with the record of another patient who had the same name. The incident was widely reported in July 2016 when regulators came to investigate what exactly happened. Most people who read the accounts thought it was a rare blunder. But this type of blunder is not rare at all. 

Every day in medical clinics and hospitals, physicians assume they have an accurate picture of a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, lab results, and other information when they click into an electronic medical record (EMR). But this assumption can lead to fatal consequences, like the example mentioned above.

The problem is called patient identity matching error, a crisis that RightPatient has been addressing for years. One of the most severe match errors is when two patients’ medical records, with a similar or same name, get merged, leading to an erroneous organ removal or other nightmares. More common than this is the creation of duplicate medical records. For instance, Christina Elizabeth Smith, Cristina E. Smith, and C. E. Smith refers to the same individual, but her medical information is filed under three separate records. Neither the physician nor the patient will be aware of missing data points when they are discussing treatment decisions or procedures. 

The problem with common identifiers

Duplicate medical records can be created in many ways. One of the most common sources of duplicate records is making errors during the patient registration process. Other variations can be associated with identifying an unconscious patient when they are in the ER. Many times, duplicate records are also created due to demographic changes for the patient. Registrars face difficulties when patients change their last name or move to another place, so they create a new record for that individual. 

Patient identity matching errors can also occur when there is a variation in using common identifiers during the registration or identification process. A simple typo or mishearing the correct word can result in a mismatch in records. 

Common identifiers are also used to commit medical identity theft, an issue that healthcare providers have been trying to avoid for the past several years. A fraudster can easily get access to this type of information and fraudulently imitate someone else’s identity to get medication/benefits for their own use. 

These kinds of problems can be mitigated if common identifiers such as names, DOB, SSNs, or other demographic data used during the initial registration and identification process are replaced with the unique identifiers that RightPatient uses. For instance, identifying and authenticating an individual by using their iris pattern or a photo of their face. 

Accurate Patient Identity Matching with RightPatient

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identity management platform. Problems pertaining to duplicate records, medical identity theft, and record mismatch have been successfully mitigated by using RightPatient. Leading healthcare providers such as Terrebonne General Medical Center and The University Health Care System have successfully eliminated these sorts of problems and are continuously delivering the best experience for their patients with utmost clinical efficiency. 

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During the initial patient enrollment process, RightPatient will lock an individual’s medical records using their iris pattern or a photo of their face. Each time a patient arrives at the continuum of care, RightPatient will verify and authenticate their identity through an iris scanner, camera, or a webcam and retrieve their accurate medical records.

As a leader in the patient identity matching process, RightPatient helps healthcare providers to keep and maintain accurate medical records of their patients. Patient identity matching problems related to aggregating patient data via Health Information Exchanges (HIE) can be eliminated if all the healthcare providers adopt RightPatient, ensuring the best clinical outcome and data integrity across the healthcare system.

Patient Identity Matching - Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient
Patient Identity Matching - Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, touchless biometric technologies will play a key role in the next few years. RightPatient ensures safety and hygiene in a health facility by limiting physical contact between people and frequently touched high-risk surfaces, such as fingerprint scanners. Adopt RightPatient and make sure that one patient does not have multiple records in the master patient index (MPI) and that each piece of health information ends up in the correct patient record.

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5 Strategies to Ensure Revenue Integrity in Healthcare

Many healthcare providers were struggling financially before the pandemic. But now, the U.S healthcare industry is on the verge of financial disaster. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals are bleeding approximately $50 billion per month due to canceled elective procedures and costs associated with treating COVID-19 patients. Many non-COVID patients have also stopped seeking primary care visits, including patients with life-threatening conditions, because they are worried about exposures. In addition, claim errors, denials, and payment delays that result from inaccurate patient identification, duplicate medical records, and medical identity theft still persist, all of which affects revenue integrity. 

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Adopting Value-Based Reimbursement (VBR) models has shown to have economic advantages but poses a real challenge for healthcare providers alongside ever-changing healthcare compliance regulations. Siloed workflows, data proliferation, and disparate systems make it difficult to achieve the collaboration that is needed for VBR to yield optimal results. However, intelligent revenue cycle management can be the key to achieving financial stability and revenue integrity. 

Identify the problem

Today’s environment requires automating workflows and considering the whole revenue cycle process to ensure revenue integrity. Healthcare providers want an easy, seamless way to manage revenue cycle without errors, such as those caused by patient identification issues. Considering the lack of electronic medical record (EMR) system capabilities to adequately address the critical need for accurate patient identification, it is vital to leverage complementary technologies with core-specific competencies that can improve the overall revenue cycle. For example, improving patient identification and matching processes at the front-end of the revenue cycle process can significantly reduce costs. 

As an industry-leader in touchless patient authentication, RightPatient has been helping many healthcare organizations reduce claim errors and denied claims by ensuring accurate patient identification. By eliminating denied claims linked to identification errors, healthcare providers can reduce the burden of back-end activities in the revenue cycle and simplify the reimbursement process to ensure revenue integrity.

Rely on technology

Adopting technology is also essential to ensure that clinical teams across the healthcare ecosystem are accessing high quality shared data to produce the best outcomes. Augmenting the organization’s core systems with complementary technologies on a single, integrated platform enhances internal collaboration with other teams or departments. For instance, RightPatient crosses departmental silos and brings transparency to patient healthcare data across disparate domains. Transparency across teams is critical. RightPatient will ensure that a holistic and accurate medical record of each patient can be accessed by clinical and operational staff members no matter where the patient is authenticated. By automating the patient identification and authentication process, RightPatient improves clinical outcomes and enables staff to proactively focus on other areas where their expertise has the most impact.

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Ensure compliance

According to the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity (NAHRI), the goal of revenue integrity is to prevent issues that lead to revenue leakage or compliance risks through effective, efficient, and internal controls across the care continuum, supported by strong documentation and sound financial practices that can withstand audits at any time. 

Violation of healthcare compliance is a major contributing factor to financial losses. For instance, HIPAA violations are becoming more common across the U.S healthcare system. HIPAA compliance software, on the other hand, can help address this issue. Such software allows healthcare providers to simplify their compliance efforts and manage training through an effective communication system. Ensuring HIPAA compliance prevents privacy issues that can impact proper revenue cycle management and helps to avoid costly financial losses.

Accurate documentation and coding

Unfortunately, as long as healthcare providers do not address the issue of front-end data validation, claim denials will continue to wreak havoc. Inaccurate patient identification and medical identity theft still remain a major contributing factor to denied claims and payment delays. However, through accurate patient identification, RightPatient enables healthcare providers to bill and code each patients’ information accurately. By ensuring accurate and clinical documentation, this platform significantly reduces inefficiencies of denials and rework, thereby strengthening revenue integrity. 

Improve hygiene and foster patient trust with RightPatient

Healthcare providers are witnessing a reduction in non-infected patient activity due to the fear of COVID-19. Visits for general check-ups or other routine procedures have decreased to the obvious financial detriment of healthcare providers. These providers need to reassure their patients that they are taking all precautionary steps to maintain hygiene and control this contagious disease. Adopting RightPatient is a sensible part of this strategy. 

RightPatient is a completely touchless biometric patient identification platform that can accurately identify patients throughout the continuum of care. After capturing a photo from a smartphone, tablet, or webcam, RightPatient instantly identifies patients and retrieves their correct medical record. By securing unauthorized access to medical records, hospitals are able to prevent medical identity theft, reduce denied claims, and duplicate records – all of which are vital to a high-performing revenue cycle. 

5 Strategies to Ensure Revenue Integrity in Healthcare
5 Strategies to Ensure Revenue Integrity in Healthcare

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

RightPatient also offers remote patient authentication, which is becoming increasingly necessary as people are maintaining social distance by staying at home and getting treatment through telehealth practices. During this process, RightPatient validates patient identities by comparing their ID (e.g. driver’s license) and selfie photos. This process can also help healthcare providers to save money on more expensive identity proofing solutions through credit agencies. 

As patient care becomes more complex, so does the management of the revenue cycle. RightPatient can help to simplify and manage the complexity by ensuring safe, ubiquitous patient authentication from various patient encounter points. Full financial recovery from this pandemic may take years, but adopting RightPatient will ensure that you are on a faster path to success.

RightPatient-reduces-impact-of-duplicate-medical-records-in-healthcare

Impact of Duplicate Medical Records in Healthcare can be Mitigated

The novel coronavirus is probably one of the biggest challenges the U.S. healthcare system has ever faced. However, the healthcare industry is not new to problems – it has constantly been plagued with issues, although, not of the same magnitude as COVID-19. One of the biggest challenges it faces is patient identification errors and this is a direct impact of duplicate medical records in healthcare, among other factors. Let’s see why it happens and how it can be reduced.

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Duplicate records in a nutshell

Duplicate medical records are where there are multiple patient records referring to the same patient stored in an EHR (Electronic Health Record) system. Multiple records are usually created due to human errors. For instance, if William Johnson goes to the hospital, the EHR user will search by his name, ask some questions, and go through the standard procedure for identifying the patient. Now, there might be quite a few medical records named William Johnson and the EHR user may get confused, leaving two choices – searching until finding the most appropriate record or making a new one. Many hospitals house millions of records, and there is also a high probability that there may be quite a lot of “William Johnsons” sharing the same information as the actual patient. Thus, if the EHR user cannot find the appropriate record from this vast sea of EHRs for William Johnson, and a duplicate medical record gets created. 

Impact of duplicate medical records in healthcare – some findings

According to a study conducted by Black Book Research, the impact of duplicate records includes patient identification errors, repeated care, redundant medical tests, and denied claims – all of which lead to increased costs. Overall, these problems cost the healthcare system billions of dollars each year.

But why is the cost so high? Well, on average, duplicate records occupy almost 20% of the EHR system of any given healthcare provider. 

Another problem of medical records similar to duplicates is overlays. The latter is caused when records of patients are merged into a single one – generating inconsistent information such as a fragmented medical history. 

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Both duplicate medical records and record overlays have serious consequences – not only for a hospital where financials and revenue cycles are impacted, but patient safety is also jeopardized. Duplicate medical records often contain inaccurate or incomplete medical history and can lead to wrong treatments due to factors like medication, lab test results, and allergies not being mentioned. These can even cost a patient their lives. Thus, the impact of duplicate medical records in healthcare is significant and needs to be addressed effectively.

Leading hospitals are mitigating effects of duplicates

Even though the majority of hospitals are suffering from the impact of duplicate medical records in healthcare, many pioneering providers have taken steps to mitigate the costs associated with duplicate records.

They went to the root of the problem – why are duplicates and overlays being created in the first place? It is because the EHR users are not able to identify the patients accurately. If an EHR system houses millions of patient records, who can blame them? Common names and information lead to the creation of duplicates and generate patient identification errors. This is exactly what RightPatient prevents. 

Impact of Duplicate Medical Records in Healthcare can be Mitigated
Impact of Duplicate Medical Records in Healthcare can be Mitigated

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

RightPatient is a contactless biometric patient identification platform that can seamlessly be integrated with EHR systems. It locks the medical records of the patients with their biometric data upon enrollment. When they return, all they need to do is look at the camera and the platform identifies their accurate medical record within seconds, creating a contactless and hygienic experience without hospitals having to think about infection control issues. Since it accurately identifies the patients, it prevents the creation of duplicate medical records. Pioneers like Grady Health, Terrebonne General Medical Center, and University Health Care System are using RightPatient and preventing duplicate records, improving revenue cycle, and saving millions in the process, all the while improving patient safety. 

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Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration

With over 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States as of 22nd May 2020 and surrounding talks about reopening society, it remains a firm fact that without widespread contact tracing and safe vaccine administration, there is no getting back to the life we once knew as normal. Nevertheless, there is one major and longstanding hurdle to overcome for achieving either of both widespread contact tracing or safe vaccine administration goals, and that is correct patient identification.

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The importance of correct patient identification

The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit, non-governmental organization along with several other organizations have been looking for ways to improve patient matching through correct patient identification. Most importantly, they have stressed the fact that biometric technology is the key, including in a recent HIMSS20 Digital Presentation

PEW has again stressed that Congress should act to improve patient identification and patient matching. They sent a letter this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Kentucky, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. According to the letter, thorough contact tracing in the short-term and nationwide vaccination administration in the long-term relies on having accurate patient demographic data, but the current flaws with correct patient identification and matching of patient records hinder the nation’s ability to achieve either of those goals.

Drawbacks of patient identification errors

Ben Moscovitch, Project Director for Health Information Technology at the Pew Charitable Trusts says “Matching is a problem today”. He says, according to research, half of the patient records may not match when transferred from one healthcare facility to another, thereby imposing unnecessary risk and potential harm to the patient. 

eliminate-drawbacks-of-patient-identification-errors-with-RightPatient

Not having a correct patient identification technique in hospitals can cause discrepancies in data when hospitals try to match an individual’s record, and it may lead to the creation of another electronic health record (EHR) for the same patient (this is commonly known as creating a duplicate medical record in the system). Duplicate medical records drive up costs. Research has shown that duplicate medical records can cost hospitals $96 to fix each record, adding up to $1,000 to remove the data of two patients whose records have been merged together.

Key factors that can hinder the immunization process

A variety of factors can affect correct patient identification. When common identifiers such as name, DOB, and address are used, a simple typo or variation in how these identifiers are recorded during registration can lead to poor match rates. 

Another major problem with patient matching is the fact that many people have similar names, including the same date of birth. In a nation where nearly 48,000 people are named John Smith, correct patient identification is absolutely critical for an effective widespread vaccination program.

An effective large-scale nationwide vaccination program and immunization registry would depend on reliable and robust patient data, and successful administration of this program hinges on the ability of healthcare providers to locate the right patient record. Biometric technology has consistently proven effective in matching patient records through correct patient identification.

Why should you use biometric technology in a post-coronavirus society?

Contactless biometric technology is a hygienic way to ensure correct patient identification, limiting infection control risk during the identification process. As a pioneer in touchless biometric patient identification, the RightPatient platform offers iris and facial recognition for correct patient identification to ensure that patients can be identified without having to touch a common biometric device. 

Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration
Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

RightPatient uses the biometric characteristics of a patient to prevent medical identity theft and duplicate medical records. Through the platform, patient identities can be validated remotely through their own personal devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, and PCs) after they schedule appointments. During in-person or telehealth visits, patients can be subsequently authenticated by simply capturing their photo. The solution significantly increases patient matching rates. 

Needless to say, contactless biometric technology for correct patient identification is the key to an effective nationwide vaccination program. Errors from common patient names, lack of demographic data standards, and human mistakes can be avoided with RightPaitent to strengthen the integrity of data related to vaccinations and COVID diagnoses. This will help to reduce costs and improve patient safety. 

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Duplicate Medical Records and Patient Misidentification Frequently Affects Hospitals

The U.S. healthcare system does not seem to catch a break. The coronavirus outbreak is the latest problem added to the already formidable list of issues plaguing the U.S. healthcare system. Lack of price transparency, outrageous costs, and archaic laws are just some of the problems. However, let’s talk about a hospital that has been around for many years and still haunts several (or not all) hospitals- lacking an effective patient identification system. 

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A study regarding patient misidentification 

Not so long ago, a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Massachusetts eHealth collaborative shed light on a known issue – patient matching is very common in U.S. hospitals. Let’s see what wrong patient matching leads to and what causes the error, so that we can understand why healthcare providers must make accurate patient matching. 

Patient matching and duplicate records explained

Firstly, the meaning of patient matching is quite self-explanatory. It refers to matching a patient with his/her health record so that the hospital can proceed on providing healthcare services. Now, it seems quite simple, but patient matching issues exist, according to the aforementioned study. What makes it so tough? The most common reasons are duplicate medical records and patient misidentification, also referred to as mismatched patient records.  

Duplicate medical records are created when a patient has multiple patient records at a given healthcare provider’s EHR system. This happens for a variety of reasons – poor communication between the hospital staff and the patient during patient admission or checkup, failure to find the existing patient record within the database, and so on. Duplicate records decentralize the healthcare process that providers initially intended to provide to patients. For instance, due to duplicate records, a patient’s complete medical history could be impossible to find. In essence, different diagnoses are stored in various records, which leads to serious medical errors like mistreatment, repetitive lab tests, wrong medication, unintentional injuries, and in extreme cases, deaths.  

Patient misidentification, wrong patient identification, and mismatched patient records are used interchangeably but mean the same thing. Patient misidentification occurs when a healthcare provider mixes up medical records of different patients. This happens when the patients share similar characteristics – name, date of birth, medical history, are just a few examples. This can cause severe issues like mistreatment, financial loss for patients, longer recovery time, and has also proven to take the lives of unfortunate ones. 

Duplicate Medical Records and Patient Misidentification Frequently Affects Hospitals
Duplicate Medical Records and Patient Misidentification Frequently Affects Hospitals

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

How are hospitals affected?

Not only patients but healthcare providers are also affected profoundly. Claim denials can lead to losses in millions and occur when bills are sent to the wrong patients as a result of patient misidentification. Patients can also hit hospitals with lawsuits because of mistreatments. 

Thus, accurate patient identification is critical for hospitals to operate smoothly and without any unwanted incidents. Fortunately, RightPatient has a proven track record of helping out hospitals with patient identification issues. It is a biometric patient identification platform that locks the medical records of patients with their biometric data. During enrollment, the platform takes a photo of the patient and his/her biometric data, such as a scan of the irises, and attaches it to the medical record. Later on, whenever the patient returns, all he/she needs to do is look at the camera. RightPatient accurately identifies the medical record within seconds, ensuring accurate patient identification as well as preventing the creation of duplicate records. 

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Leading Hospitals Understand the Importance of Proper Patient Identification

The importance of proper patient identification can be felt by hospitals, patients, and everyone else involved in the caregiving process. Positive, or proper patient identification refers to hospitals successfully matching patients with their appropriate medical records. However, in practice, this is very tricky. In fact, according to a study, 38% of healthcare providers stated that they had encountered at least one incident which directly ties in with patient misidentification in the past two years.  

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Why patient misidentification happens

Patient identification errors occur due to multiple reasons – duplicate medical records and overlays are just two of the many reasons. Duplicate medical records are created when a patient has more than one electronic health record to his/her name, whereas overlays referring to two different medical records belonging to different patients are merged. Both situations cause fatal harm to patients and cause irreparable damage to healthcare providers with their financials and goodwill on the line. Thus, the importance of proper patient identification is understood quite well by health systems.  

Strategies used by leading hospitals

Choosing the required number of personnel to handle a large amount of data is a must. A large provider can house up to 10 million medical records. If your one is such a health system, are you employ enough personnel to keep that humongous amount of data in check? A responsible provider not only need to ensure that the data is clean but also must maintain this state at all time. Entering clean data is one thing, but keeping it is another challenge entirely.

The selection of the software which fits your needs is the first and most important strategy. Do not opt for outdated software – these not only pose a security risk but may also be incompatible with your other software. Thus, choosing a method that enhances patient matching can save lives, for instance, a biometric patient identification platform. But more on that later. 

Leading Hospitals Understand the Importance of Proper Patient Identification
Leading Hospitals Understand the Importance of Proper Patient Identification

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Obeying all laws and regulations may go a long way. In unfortunate circumstances, you can ensure your safety by letting the authorities know about the incident and your compliance with all rules to ensure the safety of patient data. 

Understanding the importance of proper patient identification

The last and most important thing – use a solution that ensures that patients are always positively identified. This is precisely where RightPatient can help you. It is a biometric patient identification platform that locks medical records with patients’ biometric data upon registration. After the registration, the platform can detect the medical record matched with the patient’s biometric data accurately within seconds. Leading healthcare providers such as Community Medical Centers and Terrebonne General Medical Center are protecting millions of patient records with RightPatient, thus ensuring positive patient identification and saving millions of dollars in the process. 

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Duplicate Medical Records Impact Patient Safety in Hospitals

Ensuring patient safety is one of the top priorities for any hospital. Experts suggest that the mismatch and duplication of patient data have damaged the U.S. medical system and caused potentially fatal consequences. Let’s see how duplicates hamper patient safety in hospitals.

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Duplicate medical records may occur in different ways. The most common repetitive error occurs during the patient registration process. This situation also occurs when the unconscious patient cannot be identified. Sometimes, duplicates are created based on the patient’s demographic changes; the registrar may fail to find the patient’s last name and decide to create a new record. Patients must be identified reliably and consistently so that healthcare providers can have a complete view and make the best decisions.

Duplicate records are costly for E.D.

According to a report from 2019, approximately 18% of patient records within organizations are duplicates. Such duplicate records cost an average of over $1,950 per hospitalization, while the medical system spends more than the USD 800 per emergency (E.D.) visit.

Duplicate records cause delay and improper treatment

One-fifth of the patients have incomplete health records due to duplicate data, so they cannot fully view the patient’s medical records. This also leads to delays, unnecessary tests, or improper treatment of the patients. 

There are bad examples of duplicate medical records

Duplicate records pose a remarkable level of threats to the provision of proper care and patient safety in hospitals while carrying some significant consequences. In one incident, a woman’s mammogram was mistakenly assigned to another lady’s chart. As a result, her diagnosis was postponed, and the clinician was unable to start her treatment until the diagnosis was confirmed.

Duplicate Medical Records Impact Patient Safety in Hospitals
Duplicate Medical Records Impact Patient Safety in Hospitals

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Patients might end up with the wrong drugs

Duplicate medical records also harm prescription drugs. If a patient receives medications according to the wrong prescription and the clinician does not acknowledge the patient’s drug history, then the probability of a fatal outcome is high.

Duplicate medical records add unnecessary expenses to hospitals  

A survey from 2018 revealed that duplicate patient EHRs cost hospitals an average of $1,950 per patient. 33% of all denied claims were caused by mismatched or incorrect patient information- as found by the survey. Such denied claims caused an average of $1.5 million to the health care system in 2017 and $6 billion annually as a whole. Data sharing continues to grow and poses challenges to the safety of virtual medical records; hence, resolving the issue regarding patient records has become an increasingly urgent and complicated task. 

The challenge of patient identification can be solved if patient records are accurately identified against a patient’s unique feature, and RightPatient does just that. It creates a closed-loop patient record that can only be accessed through biometric identification- ensuring that the patient data is locked and irreversible. Once the inscription is done, patients only need to scan their biometrics- RightPatient to identify the accurate medical record within seconds and submit it to the hospital staff. The duplicate medical records of health systems such as Community Medical Centers and University Health Care System have been significantly reduced, which can help improve emergency medical response and ensure patient data safety.

Patient-safety-issues-can-be-prevented-with-accurate-patient-identification

Patient safety issues occur due to misidentifications

When electronic health records (EHRs) were introduced, people lauded it as the next big thing in the technological landscape of the healthcare industry. There were many reasons – it was entirely digital as the name suggests, could be accessed quickly and whenever required, reduced paperwork, among many other reasons. However, once it was widely implemented, the reality was drastically different. Instead of solving these problems, EHRs added additional ones along the way – patient safety issues.

Patient-safety-issues-can-be-prevented-with-accurate-patient-identification

EHRs have created many problems for patients and healthcare providers alike. They have created risks which were unpredicted at the time of their implementation, which can potentially generate the chance to make grave errors in the treatment processes for patients, specifically if the treatment involves medicines. If this seems terrible, it gets even worse. These problems associated with EHRs are much more catastrophic for children and younger patients since their prescribed drugs are age-based. A study has found that EHRs do not take age into account; thus, it does not tackle the problems associated in a pediatric environment. Other than that, patient safety issues like matching errors are synonymous with EHRs. This is where biometric patient identification systems like RightPatient come into play.

The problems healthcare providers face while using EHRs lead to misidentifications mostly. Some of the challenges EHR users face are:

  • Problems associated with displaying patient information, or incomplete/corrupt patient data
  • Issues related to patient data entries which cause delays
  • Problems with EHRs regarding feedback or notifications
  • Disruption in the workflow if data needs to be shared 

So what are the actual problems associated with patient safety issues caused by EHRs? 

Restricted information results in wrong medications

EHRs usually provide the hospitals with blank data fields which the latter can fill in, if required, regarding making notes making it easier for colleagues. However, they do not know whether their colleagues have access to those specific fields, which can create many problems. For example, if a doctor had made a note within the EHR regarding the medical condition of a patient, say glucose level, the nurse who will administer the medication may not be able to view this note because her access is restricted, not taking into account the medical condition. Such problems lead to a lot of medical complications. Likewise, if required fields are not available to be viewed by everyone in the hospital, the staff may get confused between patients with common characteristics like name, address, etc., causing patient matching errors.

A patient is provided with excess or wrong medication due to an entry error

This is the primary cause of confusing units – between imperial units and metric units. Thus, as it is common in the US to use pounds, and if the weight is entered in pounds, but the EHR accepts only kilograms, this will hamper with the medication. Medications are sometimes dependant on the weight, especially in the cases of children, and they may, unfortunately, receive larger doses of medicine than required, which can be fatal. Other than that, if a patient is misidentified, then this will cause the patient to receive the wrong medication as well.

Patient safety issues occur due to misidentifications
Patient safety issues occur due to misidentifications

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Missed doses of medications occur due to problematic information displays

EHRs can usually list all the medicines that have been scheduled for patients, along with time and dosage required. However, sometimes due to patient matching errors, they may end up with the medicines planned for some other patient, and this can be fatal for both the patients involved if someone is not cautious enough while administering the medications.

Duplicate patient IDs are created

By far, one of the most significant flaws of EHRs is consistent to this very day. News regarding patient matching errors are very common, and at least one person you know has faced it. How does it happen? Very simply – once a patient comes in and a hospital representative does not find the individual’s record in the EHR, the employee tries to save time by creating a new ID instead of searching more in-depth for the correct record. The staff thinks that this is the way to save time and effort but generates another source for losses by the employer. Sometimes even the patients are to be blamed – if they are not attentive enough while verification, the hospital staff may pick the wrong record for them. Its effects can range from being financial losses to even life-threatening. Due to this single issue, everyone involved with healthcare has suffered – patients, healthcare providers, insurance companies, and so on. Healthcare companies are now clamoring for a unique patient ID solution to eliminate these errors. 

Medical ID thefts take place

Another consequence of patient safety issues via EHRs – fraudulent activities. Addicts and professional thieves can very easily misuse others’ IDs and gain access to healthcare benefits or drugs which are entitled to the actual patients, resulting in financial losses incurred by the unfortunate patients. All this happens because there was no sure way to identify whether the medical record belonged to the perpetrator, until now.

What can be the solution to patient safety issues?

As seen from the problems, all of them point in one direction – patient matching errors. From all of this, patient identification error is seen as a disease in itself of the healthcare industry. Everyone involved is affected and suffers due to it in various ways and degrees. It is a multibillion-dollar problem in the US, where fixing a single entry costs from $1000-5000.

However, its days are numbered, it seems, as biometric patient identification systems like RightPatient are successfully eliminating it from the healthcare providers who use it. It uses iris scanning, which is easy and convenient for patients – all they need to do is look into the camera, and they are identified accurately. Another benefit of this biometric modality is that it also correctly identifies the irises of the younger patients as irises are formed within ten months of birth and remain unchanged. Patients also love it because there is no chance of getting any contagious diseases as it does not require physical touch. Over a hundred healthcare providers are using it, and they are reiterating the same thing – patient experience has improved along with patient safety due to the reduction of errors and the speed of the process.

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Achieving Higher Patient Data Integrity Requires a Multi-Layered Approach

The following guest post was written by David Cuberos, Enterprise Sales Consultant with RightPatient®

Patient Data Integrity and Duplicate Medical Records

It is a well known fact that inaccurate or incomplete data within a patient’s medical record can be a catastrophic risk to patient safety, not to mention a serious hospital liability. As a result, many hospitals and healthcare organizations across the industry are closely examining the integrity of their health data and taking steps to clean it, most by using third party probabalistic and deterministic de-duplication matching algorithms (often directly from their EHR providers) that search and identify possible duplicates for an automatic or manual merge.

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Improving patient data integrity in healthcare requires a multi-layered approach that addresses both data matching and more accurate patient identification.

Several key players in the healthcare industry including CHIME, AHIMA, HIMSS, and major EHR providers are beating the drum to improve patient identification and patient data matching, all important catalysts for the push to improve patient data integrity.

If you are a hospital or healthcare organization that is knee deep in the middle of a health IT initiative to help increase patient data integrity (especially in the context of prepping for participation in a local or regional health information exchange), you may want to stop and reassess your strategy.  The rush to cleanse “dirty data” from EHR and EMPI databases is often addressed by relying on an EHR vendor’s de-duplication algorithm which is supposed to search and identify these duplicate medical records and either automatically merge them if similarity thresholds are high, or pass them along to the HIM department for further follow up if they are low. 

This could be a very effective strategy to cleanse an EMPI to ensure patient data accuracy moving forward, but is it enough? Is relying on an EHR vendor’s de-duplication algorithm sufficient to achieve high levels of patient data integrity to confidently administer care?  It actually isn’t. A more effective strategy combines elements of a strong de-duplication algorithm with strong patient identification technology to ensure that patient data maintains its integrity.

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Duplicate Medical Record Rates are Often Understated

The industry push for system-wide interoperability to advance the quality and effectiveness of healthcare for both individuals and the general population has been one of the main catalysts motivating healthcare organizations to clean and resolve duplicates but it also has revealed some kinks in the data integrity armor of many different medical record databases. Most hospitals we speak with either underestimate their actual duplicate medical rate, or do not understand how to properly calculate it based on the actual data they can access.  An AHIMA report entitled “Ensuring Data Integrity in Health Information Exchange” stated that:

“…on average an 8% duplicate rate existed in the master patient index (MPI) databases studied. The average duplicate record rate increased to 9.4% in the MPI databases with more than 1 million records. Additionally, the report identified that the duplicate record rates of the EMPI databases studied were as high as 39.1%.”

“High duplicate record rates within EMPI databases are commonly the result of loading unresolved duplicate records from contributing MPI files. EMPI systems that leverage advanced matching algorithms are designed to automatically link records from multiple systems if there is only one existing viable matching record. If the EMPI system identifies two or more viable matching records when loading a patient record, as is the case when an EMPI contains unresolved duplicate record sets, it must create a new patient record and flag it as an unresolved duplicate record set to be manually reviewed and resolved. Therefore, if care is not taken to resolve the existing EMPI duplicate records, the duplicate rate in an EMPI can grow significantly as additional MPI files are added.”

(AHIMA report, “Ensuring Data Integrity in Health Information Exchange”  http://library.ahima.org/xpedio/groups/public/documents/ahima/bok1_049675.pdf)

Clearly, the importance of cleansing duplicate medical records from a database cannot be understated in the broader scope of improving patient data integrity but relying on an EHR vendor’s probabilistic matching algorithm as the only tool to clean and subsequently maintain accurate records may not always be the most effective strategy. Instead, healthcare organizations should consider a multi-layered approach to improving patient data integrity beyond relying exclusively on an EHR vendor’s de-duplication algorithm. Here’s why.

Why Patient Data Integrity is a Multi-Layered Approach

Often not clearly explained to healthcare organizations, EHR de-duplication algorithms allow end users to set matching thresholds to be more or less strict, which comes with trade-offs. The more strict the threshold is set, the less chance of a false match but the higher chance of a false reject. The less strict the algorithm is set, the lower the chance of a false reject but the higher the chance of false acceptance.

Translation: Often times hospitals who say they have a low duplicate medical record rate might have a strict false acceptance rate (FAR) threshold setting in their de-duplication algorithm. That may mean that there could be a significant amount of unknown duplicate medical records that are being falsely rejected. Obviously, this is a concern because these databases must be able to identify virtually every single duplicate medical record that may exist in order to achieve the highest level of patient data integrity.

Achieving Higher Patient Data Integrity Requires a Multi-Layered Approach
Achieving Higher Patient Data Integrity Requires a Multi-Layered Approach

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So, what can healthcare organizations do to ensure they are not only holistically addressing duplicate medical record rates, but also adopting technology that will maintain high patient data integrity levels moving forward? One answer is to implement a stronger de-duplication algorithm that has the ability to “key” and link medical records across multiple healthcare providers on the back end, and deploying a technology such as biometrics for patient identification on the front end to ensure that not only is care attribution documented to the accurate medical record, but a provider has the ability to view all patient medical data prior to treatment. 

For example, many credit bureaus offer big data analytics solutions that can dig deep into a medical record database to better determine what identities are associated with medical records. These agencies are experts in identity management with access to sophisticated and comprehensive databases containing the identification profiles for millions and millions of patients — databases that are reliable, highly accurate, and secure with current and historical demographic data.

Once data is analyzed by these agencies, they are able to assign a “key” to match multiple medical records for the same patient within a single healthcare organization and across unaffiliated healthcare organizations to create a comprehensive EHR for any patient. Offering a unique ability to augment master patient index (MPI) matching capabilities with 3rd party data facilitates more accurate matching of medical records across disparate health systems and circumvents the problem of MPIs assigning their own unique identifiers to individual patients that are different than unaffiliated healthcare organizations that have their own MPI identifiers.

Benefits of using a third party big data analytics solution that has the ability to “key” medical records for more accurate patient data matching at a micro level include:

  • More accurate identification of unique patient records resulting in a more complete medical record and improved outcomes
  • Prevention of duplicate medical records and overlays at registration reduces the cost of ongoing MPI cleanups
  • Medical malpractice risk mitigation 
  • Reduced patient registration times
  • The ability to more accurately link the most current insurance coverage patient information for more accurate billing

On the marco level, benefits include: 

  • Positive patient identification for eligibility verification, billing, coordination of benefits, and reimbursement
  • Improved care coordination
  • Information and record keeping organization 
  • Linkage of lifelong health records across disparate healthcare facilities
  • Aggregation of health data for analysis and research
  • Accurately aggregating patient federated data via a HIE

Conclusion

We have long championed the idea that improving patient data integrity can never be achieved in the absence of establishing patient identification accuracy or relying on EHR vendor de-duplication algorithms as the single resource to clean an MPI database. Hospitals and healthcare organizations that are truly committed to cleansing duplicate medical records from their databases and preventing them from reoccurring through more accurate patient identification must consider deploying stronger front and back end solutions that have the ability to more comprehensively identify and resolve these dangers to patient safety. Why not leverage the clout and reach of these big data analytics solutions to more effectively improve patient data integrity instead of putting all of your eggs in an EHR vendor’s de-duplication algorithm?

What other strategies have you seen as effective methods to increase patient data integrity in healthcare?

biometric patient identification prevents duplicate medical recordsDavid Cuberos is an Enterprise Sales Consultant with RightPatient® helping hospitals and healthcare organizations realize the benefits of implementing biometrics for patient identification to; increase patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records and overlays, and prevent medical identity theft and healthcare fraud.

biometric patient identification solutions prevent duplicate medical records and overlays

New Podcast: The Impact of Duplicates and Overlays on Health Information Management (HIM)

biometric patient identification solutions prevent duplicate medical records and overlays

Our latest podcast features HIM Director Erin Head discussing the impact of duplicate medical records and overlays on health information management (HIM).

Erin brings a wealth of experience to health information management (HIM) work flow and managing patient data integrity so naturally we were excited to tap into her knowledge base to better understand the HIM “front line” – a deeper discussion about the day to day activities in the trenches and a firsthand account of the negative impact of duplicate medical record and overlay identification and reconciliation. Our conversation with Erin covered the following topics:

— How duplicate medical record reconciliation impacts HIM workflow and other job responsibilities sacrificed due to duplicate/overlay reconciliation

— The average FTEs health information management spends reconciling duplicates and overlays and the financial impact on the hospital if FTE’s that are currently cleaning up duplicates and overlays could be reallocated to more revenue generating activities such as coding

— How the shift to quality vs. quantity based care impacts the responsibilities and sense of urgency for HIM

— Whether the ONC cost estimate of $60 per duplicate record is low or high compared to her own experience

— The impact on HIPAA violations that duplicates/overlays cause and the cost if a hospital releases information to wrong patient

— How the introduction of the patient portal complicates management of duplicates

— How the implementation of a biometric patient identification system helps to lower the burden of reconciling duplicates and overlays and allows health information management to focus on their core competencies

For a full version of the podcast, please visit the landing page for more information. 

Have an idea for a podcast or know a healthcare professional that would be a good candidate to interview? Email us at: info@rightpatient.com with your ideas!